Bin Laden’s cook gets 14-years jail sentence

Osama bin Laden

A US military tribunal has sentenced Osama bin Laden’s former cook to 14 years in prison, but he is expected to serve far less under a plea deal that remains secret.

Sudanese-born Ibrahim al-Qosi pleaded guilty last month in the war crimes court at the Guantánamo Bay US naval base to charges of conspiring with al-Qaida and providing material support for terrorism.

Qosi, 50, has been held at Guantánamo for more than eight years.

Military officials said it could be several months before his full plea agreement was made public. But the al-Arabiya television network based in Dubai quoted unidentified sources as saying Qosi’s sentence had been capped at two years.

Qosi acknowledged that he knew al-Qaida was a terrorist group when he ran one of the kitchens in Bin Laden’s Star of Jihad compound in Afghanistan.

Qosi, who met Bin Laden in Sudan and travelled with him to Afghanistan, also admitted helping the al-Qaida leader escape US forces in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan.

He said he had no involvement in or prior knowledge of terrorist attacks.

Qosi was the first Guantánamo captive convicted under the administration of Barack Obama, whose efforts to shut down the detention camp have been blocked by Congress.

Qosi’s sentencing hit a snag because, according to the judge, the US military ignored orders to develop a plan specifying how prisoners would serve their sentences after conviction in the Guantánamo tribunals.

Qosi wanted to avoid serving his in solitary confinement. His plea deal required the convening authority overseeing the trial to recommend that Qosi serve his time in Camp Four, where detainees live communally under fewer restrictions than in the other camps. But military rules forbid housing convicted criminals with other detainees.

The judge, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Nancy Paul, said an assistant defence secretary ordered two years ago that the army and the military’s Southern Command, which oversees the Guantánamo base, develop a detailed plan for housing prisoners after their conviction. “This has not been done,” the judge said.

She said the absence of any written policy or plan was “especially troubling” because another trial was under way, for a young Canadian, and could produce another conviction.

She ruled that Qosi’s plea agreement was valid because it called only for a recommendation that he be housed in the communal camp, and did not guarantee he would be.

The judge directed that Qosi remain in Camp Four for 60 days while the military worked out where he would serve the rest of his sentence.

Qosi is the fourth captive convicted in the tribunals created to try non-US terrorism suspects after the al-Qaida attacks of 11 September 2001. Two served short sentences and were sent home to Australia and Yemen.

The only other convict remaining at Guantánamo is Ali Hamza al Bahlul, a Yemeni who was an al-Qaida videographer. He is serving a life sentence for conspiring with al-Qaida and providing material support for terrorism.

“He is separated from the general population,” said a Guantánamo spokesman, Navy Commander Brad Fagan. He declined to elaborate except to say that “he’s by himself”.

Defence lawyers said that once Qosi returned to Sudan he would enter a programme run by the Sudanese intelligence service that was designed to rehabilitate those with radical views. Nine other Sudanese captives had gone through the programme upon repatriation from Guantánamo, they said.

After completing the programme Qosi would live with his family but would be monitored to ensure he had no contact with radicals.
Source: The Guardian

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